WARC Lecture Series
Jihad & Jihadism in Africa: History and Current Events
This panel discussion was held at WARC on Wednesday, May 20th, 2015. It featured the outstanding specialist on Muslim affairs, Professor Abdou Aziz Kébé (Department of Arabic, University Cheikh Anta Diop) and a retired general and ambassador, Mamadou Mansour Seck, one of the founding fathers of the Senegalese army who, after retiring from the military, represented Senegal in Washington, DC as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary.
Professor Kébé started by reminding his audience of the true meaning of the word Jihad in Islam. This meaning is especially resonant for most of the great Islamic leaders in West Africa and in Senegal in particular. As Professor Kébé noted, if Jihad means fight, this should first be construed as a moral and spiritual fight with oneself in one’s permament quest for perfection, purity and salvation.
According to Professor Kébé, what is presently occurring throughout the world in the guise of a religious crusade is more a political initiative than anything else, and one that tends to divide the world into believers and miscreants, planting a Manichean wedge within and between communities.
When General Seck took the floor, it was to explain to the audience the complexity of the situation from a military perspective. According to him, the war on Jihadism cannot be waged as a conventional one. This because the enemy is never easily identifiable since today’s civilian can overnight turn into a disguised faith fighter and create havoc where least expected.
Following the two presentations, the audience of 37 people engaged in a lively exchange with the panelists and with each other.